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What to do if you suspect the abuse of a loved one with dementia

Older people in England are living longer than ever before and while this means our loved ones remain with us for longer, it also brings the increased likelihood of poor health and onset of illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What to do if you suspect the abuse of a loved one with dementia

Sufferers of these debilitating diseases can present challenging behaviour that can be hard to cope with and sadly there has been a growth in elder abuse in recent years.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can take place in any location, from care homes and hospitals, to the person’s own home or that of a relative and comes in many forms – physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial, as well as neglect and discrimination.

Safeguarding someone suffering from dementia is paramount and regardless of the circumstances any cases of suspected abuse should be reported.

How to spot the signs of elder abuse

Symptoms of physical abuse can include unexplained injury or a change in behaviour, where the person might be more fearful or withdrawn. In addition to these, signs of sexual abuse can include bruising around the private areas or unexplained bleeding.

Emotional abuse, such as threatening, belittling or controlling behaviour towards the dementia sufferer, may lead them to exhibit certain actions that mimic dementia. Watch for warning signs, such as a loss of appetite, confusion, or behaviour that is new or differs from the norm.

Signs of neglect can include weight loss, dehydration, unsuitable clothing, living in unsanitary conditions and being dirty or unwashed.

Spotting financial abuse

Another form of elder abuse is the financial kind, including the theft or unauthorised use of a person’s money, property or valuables. In an Alzheimer’s Society survey, 15% of carers said that the person they cared for had been a victim of financial abuse.

Concerned loved ones should keep a close eye on bank accounts and personal possessions, as well as visiting a solicitor that specialises in matters such as Power of Attorney.

A Lasting Power of Attorney authorises someone to look after a person’s finances, health and welfare when they become too ill, begin to lose their mental capacity or no longer wish to have control over such matters.

Talk to your loved one as they get older to ensure they are safeguarded from abuse in later life and if you need help or advice regarding Power of Attorney, Will writing or other such legal matters we can help.

At Edward Hayes, we have specialist solicitors who can deal with all kinds of issues surrounding elder abuse and dementia.

If you are in the south east and need immediate advice call 0800 085 9684. If you are in another part of the country, call 0845 602 3043. Alternatively, email for more information.

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